Got Rice?

This entry is inspired by someone. She knows who she is.

She said something to the effect of, “I want to be petite and cute like other Asian girls…but I spend most of my time convincing people that I am not Asian.”

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As a Korean adoptee raised in an Italian and Portuguese family, I have always struggled with my identity. I grew up eating pasta several times a week, and never rice. I swore in Italian before I was 8, and we went to Catholic church every Sunday. I celebrate St. Joseph’s Day, and we played outside just as much, if not more, than we studied. From the neck down, I might as well have been the (chubby) girl next door. You’d never know I was Korean if you didn’t see me. Aside from my slanted eyes and straight black hair, I could be Miss All-American. Even the way I speak is quintessentialy New England. I studied political science and economics in school, while all the Asians were off in the math, pharmacy, and engineering departments. They’re all off getting their doctorates right now, while I’m at home, on the couch, unemployed and looking desperately for a job.

korean-honey-lee-01 I always thought that Asian girls had it better. They spoke their native language at home, and had these amazingly ornate carvings, wall hangings, and vases decorating their house. They were wealthy and always had the latest fashion trends by the hottest designers. Their parents were well connected at universities and MNC’s, so jobs weren’t a problem. And if they wanted to pursue higher education, it was financed without hesitation. They were exotic, and gorgeous. They were multi-talented, playing violin or piano, running track or cross country, and president of the student body. They always had a boyfriend. They were always jet-setting around Asia to visit relatives.

And they could eat a cooker full of rice every day and never gain a pound. They were slim, slender, and perfect little china dolls. Somehow the lean proportions of most Asian girls skipped me, and I inherited a short stature, D-cup boobs, a little pasta belly, and “good birthing hips” (according to an ex’s mother–no joke). These girls didn’t have thunder thighs from running to try to be thin; they didn’t have wide shoulders with thick arms; and they were so streamlined and perfect that no one could say anything bad about their figures. I think that’s the part I was always most jealous of. If I couldn’t have my mother culture in my life, at least let me have the Asian figure.

It’s hard, because I don’t have any regrets about how I was raised, or by whom. I get little pangs of hurt sometimes, when I think about what life could have been like in Korea, but I generally am very happy with my big, loud, Italian family. These are the people I love and that gave me my morals and values. I don’t know anything different. Italian culture and lifestyle, especially in New England, is all I’ve ever been exposed to. It’s ingrained in me so deeply, I sometimes forget that I’m Asian, until someone makes a joke about a stereotype. These jokes don’t ever bother me, but it always does bring things back into perspective: I’m different.
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IMaybe that’s why I embrace the stereotypes so good naturedly and wholeheartedly–because I have no real connection to them. Instead, I feel like I’ve somehow molded myself into the classic one, possible as a subconscious but desperate attempt to identify with some part of my ethnicity. Asians are smart, so I worked extremely hard in school. They play an instrument, and I am a classically trained pianist. They play video games, like Hello Kitty, and take off their shoes upon entering a house: check, check, and check. I’m ok with all of it; it wasn’t done with the intention to be a “good” Asian, but somehow they all ended up being part of a whole big piece of typical. But the one piece I never could fit was the 95 lb. one. And that was the only one I really wanted.

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15 comments

  1. grass is always greener…don’t worry, my ex is pretty much the same as you, except she has smaller boobs and looks like she’s still 16.  no joke, she always gets carded, sometimes at the movies too.  her loud Korean parents are also abusive, which is really what you get when you live in an Asian household.  so really, things could always be worse.

  2. You should be proud of how you were raised no matter what the background is. If you get into your natural Asian roots, that’s cool too; I find eating rice regularly a healthy choice and taking your shoes off when you come into a house one of the most polite gestures ever. And I always say beauty comes in many different shapes and sizes, as it takes a true hearted person to make the chance and effort to see it.

  3. I’m sure that there are girls out there just like you.There will become a POPULATION or a CULT of girls whofeel the way you do – lots of asian girls are adopted ya know?And they may feel the way you do!

  4. @SoullFire – You’d think so, but no. You have to find employment . Business, finance, econ, and marketing specialists are everywhere, and we’re all laid off. The only fields where people are actually getting jobs are in engineering and nursing. Or you have to know someone really high up.@CreativeMinority – What’s there more of? I have to admit I’m a little confused. @whotakethmycoke – Yeah, you’re right. It just sucks though.

  5. I know I don’t always leave a comment (like you do for me) but I absolutely LOVE the stuff you write and how you write them. I don’t think being typically Asian is all that… in fact, I don’t think being typically ANYTHING is all that. The funny thing is, although I am Asian through and through, I (too) didn’t inherit the basic “perfect” qualities (to me) – stick thin/slender bamboo-esque figure & straight black hair. And though I’m Chinese, grew up in a pretty ‘typical’ Chinese household and live in a country where the Chinese are one of the dominant ethnicity, I’ve always felt like I’ve never quite fit in.It’s the mentality, the physicality, the overall lifestyle approach I guess.And truth be told, I’m really not into Hello Kitty.

  6. D cup boobs? O.o  The grass is definitely greener haha, I know so many asian girls who complain about having A’s…I love the slim slender asian body, but there are a lot of people who actually complain about it.  They find it to be the downside to asian women.  There’s not usually much feature… the curves are there, but are not as well defined.I think you should learn more about your Korean culture and see why these girls are the way they are… the superficial nature of the current culture is why they all become this way, and plastic surgery has become rampant because of it.  There’s a set and widely known standard of beauty to them, and it’s kind of bad.Aside from that, Korean culture has a lot of things about honoring those older than you, and there’s a certain level of formality in everything you do, making things kind of more pleasant.  I love the food too haha.  I dunno, but hey, you’re still a cool person even if you don’t know.haha, perhaps someday we should coordinate a trip out there, and I’ll be your guide 😛

  7. I’m sorry. I’m not quite sure what to say. I mean, sure most girls feel bad about their weight, but it’s amazing enough that you can play piano, you’re smart, and you even have some awesome qualities. Isn’t it what’s inside that matters? But who am I to say that? I’m probably not even making you feel any better (which really sucks and what I’m really sorry about). Maybe it’s time to turn a new leaf and just let that stupid Asian image go. It may be hard, but gradually getting used to it and saying, “Who cares?” in the end is what makes you the better person instead of that Asian girl. I also like how you love your family. Now that’s what really counts. Live on. :]

  8. Really? I was hoping that it was just at my church. Ah, I guess all Koreans are the same.Haha, that’s really cool that you’re marrying a Filipino :DI’m actually going out with a Filipino, haha

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